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A Native American Legend

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Great , long ago, before there were people, there was hardly anything in the world but water. One day, Great Spirit looked down from heaven. He decided to make a beautiful land. But where could he begin? All he saw was water. Then he spotted a giant turtle. Great Spirit decided to make the beautiful land on the turtle’s back.

But one turtle was not big enough. The land that the Great Spirit wanted to make was very large. So he called out, "Turtle, hurry and find your six brothers."

Turtle swam away to find them. It took her a whole day to find the first. It took another day to find the next. After six days, Turtle had found her six brothers. "Come," she said. "The Great Spirit wants us."

Great Spirit called down. "Turtles! Form a line, all of you -- head to tail, north to south. Umm -- you have three on the south, please move a little to the east. Hmmm. Yes, that’s just right. What a beautiful land you turtles will make! Now listen! It is a great honor to carry this beautiful land on your backs. So you must not move!"

The turtles stayed very still. Great Spirit took some straw from his supply in the sky. He spread it out on the turtle’s backs. Then he took some soil and patted it down on top of the straw.

Great Spirit cleaned his hands on a fluffy white cloud. Then he went to work, shaping mountains and valleys and lakes and rivers. When he was finished, he looked at the beautiful land he had made. Great Spirit was very pleased. But soon trouble began. The giant turtles grew restless. They wanted to stretch their legs.

"I want to swim east," said one.

"I want to swim west, with the setting sun," said another.

The turtles began to argue. They could not agree which way to move. One day, four of the turtles began to swim east. The others began to swim west. The Earth shook! It cracked with a loud noise. But after a minute, the shaking stopped. The turtles had to stop moving because the land on their backs was so heavy. They had only been able to swim a little way from each other. When they saw that they could not swim away, they stopped arguing and made up.

Every once in a while, though, the turtles argue again. Each time they do, the Earth shakes!

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